Some people may wonder what is a bedsore? Bedsores are open wounds, or ulcers. They are caused by constant or repeated pressure on the skin. These sores can be found on the buttocks, elbow, hips, heels, ankles, shoulders, back and back of head.
Bedsores get their name from the fact that they often form in people who are bedridden. Elderly people, nursing home residents and others who live in assisted care facilities tend to suffer from bedsores. The most severe cases are called Stage 4 bedsores.
Stage 4 bedsores are one of the acts previously identified as “never events,” but which are now called “serious reportable events.”
Unfortunately, bed sores can often be traced to the negligence of those charged with caring for a bedridden individual.
If you suspect that another’s careless treatment of you or a loved one has led to Stage 4 bed sores, it’s important to contact a lawyer and get help right away in order to protect your rights. At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we provide free, no-obligation reviews. To schedule a meeting, call us today at (317) 638-3472 or take a moment to submit online contact form.
If the Stage 4 bedsores arose in a nursing home, we encourage you to contact the Indiana State Department of Health and file a complaint online. In response, the ISDH can conduct an investigation or survey to determine whether there are any violations of federal regulations at the facility and to recommend a plan of correction.
What is a Stage 4 Bedsore or Pressure Ulcer?
A bedsore is also known as a decubitus ulcer, pressure sore or pressure ulcer. They form when pressure on the skin reduces blood flow to the area, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Without enough blood, the skin dies, and the ulcer may form.
Pressure Ulcer Stages
Types of bedsores are classified by the stage of their progression. At Stage 1, a bedsore is a reddened sore spot. It is not yet an open wound. At Stage 2, the bedsore is an open sore that looks like a scrape or a blister. At Stage 3, the bedsore is a more severe wound that has begun to dig into tissue below the skin.
When the bedsore enters Stage 4, it reaches into the muscle and bone. This can cause damage to deeper tissues, tendons and joints. If the pressure sore worsens, it can lead to bone infection (osteomyelitis) or blood infection (sepsis).
Nursing Home Negligence Can Lead to a Serious Pressure Ulcer
A widely cited study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey concluded that bedsores, including those as severe as a Stage 4 bedsore, are “serious and common medical conditions in U.S. nursing homes” that “remain an important public health problem.”
About 159,000 U.S. nursing home residents (11 percent of an estimated 1.5 million nursing home residents) had pressure ulcers, the CDC said. Two percent (30,000) suffered from Stage 4 bedsores.
Shockingly, only 35 percent of nursing home residents with Stage 2 or higher pressure ulcers received special wound care, according to the CDC. This is alarming. If unchecked, a Stage 4 bedsore can spread to the rest of the body and cause serious health problems.
This is why people who are bedridden or cannot move because of a medical condition should be checked for pressure sores every day. The staff of any credible nursing home should understand this protocol. In fact, the CDC study described pressure ulcers as “one of the important measures of the quality of clinical care in nursing homes.”
Bedsores May Be Caused by Nursing Home Abuse
Neglect of the elderly and infirm is a concern in our society. It is particularly distressful when it occurs in nursing homes and similar long-term care facilities, where paid medical and para-medical staffs are being paid to assist and care for our loved ones.
If a nursing home is understaffed, patients may receive inadequate attention and not be kept clean and dry or turned regularly to prevent Stage 4 bedsores or other types of pressure ulcers.
But, staffing issues are not a valid excuse.
If you or a loved one in a nursing home has suffered to the point of developing a Stage 4 bedsore, the long-term care facility should be held accountable – not only for the pain and expense they have caused your family but to prevent other patients from suffering similar neglect.
A knowledgeable lawyer may be able to help you and your family recover compensation for medical expenses required to cure your loved one’s wounds and/or additional medical problems as well as for your family member’s pain and suffering.
In a legal case based on the nursing home neglect that led to a Stage 4 bedsore, there may also be punitive damages ordered, which could help the nursing home’s operators understand that they must change their practices.
Contact an Indiana Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
If you believe an elderly relative has suffered a Stage 4 bedsore because of neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact an Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson today for a free, no-obligation review of the situation.
Call us today or use our online contact form to have us review your case free of charge.
- Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States, 2004, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- NQF Releases Updated Serious Reportable Events, National Quality Forum